The View from Mattie’s Pillow

Dark of the Year/Dark of the Moon

Tonight, Winter Solstice, a day when the energy seems sapped from the waking hours by the cold and the infringing dark.  Today, I glanced out a window at three in the afternoon and, from inside the lighted building,  it looked and felt like midnight.  Usually, I manage to be home around this day of the year–usually perched on a hard chair, coffee in hand, a stack of papers in front of me.  My eyes get blurry after a long session of this–a day or two, depending on the class load–and morning and night begin to merge.  But today, I was up and about, putting in a few hours on campus, advising students.   I was inside for the brief hours of sunlight.

Then, tonight, a shadow dented the moon, then spread over it till it was fully rusty.  We turned off all the lights in the house and went on the deck to watch the last bit of bright moon slip into shadow.   Across the hill, people turned off their lights–even the string of blue Christmas lights we can usually see high on the ridge across the road went dark.  From time to time, somewhere on the dark hillside, a camera flash lit up.

I stood in the twenty below air, in my Muck Boots, down vest, and wool sweater, very still, hands thrust in pockets for warmth.  As the moon darkened, the stars brightened, and gradually the sky seemed dusted with them, crisp against the black curve of space.  For a few moments, I could feel the depth of the galaxy, the universe, as if the strange darkening of the moon cast it all into perspective and I could sense clearly the way we’re falling through that infinite liquid emptiness.  Strangely, it’s a comforting feeling–as if I were reminded of a long journey we’re all on or brought back to focus on the long-way-to-go destination of it rather than the minutiae of getting there, such as waiting, ungraded papers.

Standing there in the unlit night, bareheaded in the cold, my hands deep in the pockets of my down vest, it seemed like a good time to reflect, re-evaluate, refocus on things that truly matter.   Meanwhile, Sam, in the corral, pushed his food dish around like a dog, wanting to get at the last crumbs.  He’s never lost sight of  what matters, as far as he’s concerned.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, we’ll be easing back into the light, making our resolutions, thinking of the first seed catalogs to come.  Tonight is the turning point, and the psyche curls into  a hibernating ball, then stirs to stretch out into another year.

 

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One Response to “The View from Mattie’s Pillow”

  1. kdouglass Says:

    A beautiful post. No one in my house notices the solstice, but I am always tuned to this turning, amazed by the scope of space and planets that go on with their routine no matter how silly human behavior is. It is comforting.

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